Court Rejects France’s Appeal In France.com Case

Court rejects France’s appeal in France.com case

Court of Appeals rejects France’s motion to dismiss on grounds of sovereign immunity.

Picture of Eiffel Tour in France

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit has rejected an appeal by the country of France in a dispute over France.com.

Here’s the background:

Jean-Noël Frydman, who registered France.com in 1994, lost control of the domain name to the country of France after France intervened in a court case. Frydman was in a legal battle with an unrelated entity over trademarks when the French government intervened in the case and convinced a court to transfer France.com to it. Frydman sued in U.S. court to get the domain back.

(Hear about the saga directly from Frydman in DNW Podcast #184.)

France and its related entities filed a motion to dismiss Frydman’s lawsuit on three grounds:

1. It had sovereign immunity
2. The plaintiff was seeking to re-litigate a judgment rendered by a competent foreign court
3. The case failed to state a cause of action

United States District Judge Liam O’Grady granted (pdf) the motion to dismiss for several of the French entities (including the French Republic) because the Complaint lacked sufficient factual allegations to state a claim upon which relief could be granted. He gave Frydman’s company 30 days to file an amended complaint.

O’Grady said the issue of sovereign immunity would best be raised after discover has concluded.

France appealed the decision on immunity. It seemed odd to me that the country would do that given the state of the case and the win it just got.

Now the Appeals Court denied (pdf) the appeal because of the current status of the case:

This court may exercise jurisdiction only over final orders, 28 U.S.C. § 1291 (2012), and certain interlocutory and collateral orders, 28 U.S.C. § 1292 (2012); Fed. R. Civ. P. 54(b); Cohen v. Beneficial Indus. Loan Corp., 337 U.S. 541, 545-47 (1949). The order Appellants seek to appeal is neither a final order nor an appealable interlocutory or collateral order. Accordingly, we grant the motion to dismiss the appeal for lack of jurisdiction.

Of course, the case is far from over. And while it works its way through the courts, France retains control of the domain name.

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Author: Andrew Allemann

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